Spine surgery is a big deal, and rehabilitation is a big part of making sure that patients get the most out of their surgery. Rehabilitation (physical therapy, exercise) can help people recover as quickly and completely as possible after spine surgery. It’s like making sure your body is straight and balanced. If you buy new tires for your car but don’t align and balance them, they won’t last as long and you’ve wasted your money. Your spine surgery is like getting new tires. A physical therapist’s job is to make sure that the effects of the surgery are as good as possible by aligning, balancing, and tuning the engine.
What Types of Spine Surgeries are There?
A spine problem can be treated with different kinds of surgery. Some general choices are:
- Traditional spine surgery – The spine is opened up so the doctor can work on it. This invasive surgery is done in the hospital and takes a long time to heal from
- Spine laser surgery – The doctor uses a laser to operate on the spine. This means that the doctor only needs to make a few tiny cuts near the spine. This minimally invasive procedure can be done outside of a hospital and takes less time to heal from
- Other minimally invasive spine surgeries – Besides spine laser surgery, several other minimally invasive spine surgeries may be right for you. Nerve stimulation and endoscopic spine surgery are two examples
Recovery from Spine Surgery
How long it takes to get better after back surgery depends on the procedure. Most people need six to eight weeks to get better after a discectomy. But it takes longer to get better after a laminectomy or fusion surgery. These procedures are “more involved,” and it could take up to 12 weeks for your body to fully heal, and in some situations, getting better can take at least a year.
If you had a spinal fusion, you probably wouldn’t be able to work for four to six weeks if you are young, healthy, and don’t have a very hard job. People over 65 who have major surgery may not be able to go back to work for four to six months. The length of time it takes to get better after back surgery doesn’t just depend on what kind of surgery you have. There are more things to consider, like the severity of your condition, how fit you were before surgery and your age. As a person gets older, their body heals more slowly than when they were younger.
Dos and Don’ts After Spine Surgery
You’ve made the important choice to have spine surgery to fix your long-term back pain. But you must continue your efforts to live without pain after the procedure is over. Back-surgery patients can do a lot to speed up their recovery and get back to the things they love. Spine surgery patients need to know what they should and shouldn’t do to make their recoveries safer and more comfortable.
Here are some things you need to do:
- Watch for infection – People often get so focused on getting better that they forget that any surgery can lead to an infection. Look for signs of infection at the incision site, such as redness, fever, swelling, or drainage. You can lower the chance of getting an infection by keeping the wound clean and dry and taking the medicines your doctor gives you
- Participate in your physical therapy – After surgery on the spine, people are often told to do physical therapy. Follow the physical therapist’s instructions carefully so you can learn how to do things correctly without pain and without putting your spine in dangerous positions. Being consistent in your physical therapy routine is vital to your recovery
- Wear a brace – Your doctor may suggest a brace along with physical therapy. This helps keep the back stable, especially when you’re sitting or walking. Keep the brace on as much as possible, as this will help stabilize your body
- Move often – After surgery, you might want to take it easy, and in some ways, you should. But it’s good to move after any surgery, and the same is true after spine surgery. Moving around every day keeps the blood moving, which helps the body heal faster. It’s important to remember, though, that getting enough sleep is just as important as moving around often if you want your body to heal faster
Here are things to avoid doing after your back surgery:
- Don’t rush! – After surgery, many people can’t wait to get back to their normal lives. But it’s important to remember that it can take up to a few months to fully recover. Trying to get back to activities too soon can not only slow down the healing process, but it can also hurt you
- Don’t overdo it – Besides being patient, you should also be careful not to do too much. Even though it may seem easy to climb stairs a few days after surgery, doing so can put too much stress on your spine and slow down your recovery. You can go upstairs a few weeks after surgery, but you should only go up or down stairs once or twice a day for the first few weeks
- Don’t lift things or bend over – After surgery, it’s best not to lift anything that weighs more than 10 pounds. Also, when picking up light things, don’t bend at the waist. Instead, bend at the knees or squat
- DO NOT ignore your doctor’s advice – It is important to follow all of the guidelines your doctor gives you, even if some things might not seem important. Your doctor may tell you not to drive for a couple of weeks or to just walk for exercise. Follow what he or she tells you to do to get better faster, and avoid another injury
Are you about to go through spine surgery and have more questions about your recovery? Reach out to us here, or give us a call at (954)758-5846 with any questions.